Saturday, August 6, 2022

Facts or Faces?

When there's a war, how do people decide whether to support one side or the other (or neither)? They can use their intellect or their emotions. Many media outlets try to appeal to people's emotions. This is very much taken advantage of by those in Gaza sworn to Israel's destruction. They know that nothing wins condemnations of Israel like pictures of dead children. It's their most powerful weapon. When people in the West see pictures of dead children, they automatically assume that the side with the dead children are the Good Guys. This is the case even if that side has launched rockets indiscriminately at civilians and is all too happy for their own children to die and earn them political points.

Accordingly, it's essential for Palestinians to get such a picture out, whether it's real or not. And since Palestinian society is not free, it's very easy for them to concoct a story. It takes a while for the truth to come out, and the political war is won before that happens.

In the second day of the Second Intafada, the killing of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Durrah brought enormous political support for the Palestinians, and Israel made the mistake of initially taking responsibility, even though subsequently it turned out that Israel probably was not responsible. And then there was the "massacre" of hundreds or even thousands of Palestinians at Jenin that never actually happened. It was simply a fabrication - but by the time the truth came out, the damage had already been done. There's a long history of blood libels against the Jewish People, and these are just the latest incarnation.

Therefore, when just a few hours ago pictures were released of the "first casualty" of the latest conflict, a five-year-old girl in Gaza called Alaa Qaddum, I think that the first response should be to point out that such claims have no credibility, in light of the fact that previous such reports were simply fabricated.

At the same time, I think that there's another response that can be made. A left-leaning friend of mine posted a picture of the alleged five-year-old victim, to stir the heart-strings about the terrible effects of military action. I responded by posting this picture:


I added that this is a picture of the first Israeli child whose life was saved via this military action. The rocket that would have killed him, and the terrorist that would have fired it, were destroyed by Israel.

You can argue with facts and logic or by tugging at emotions. If people want to argue by tugging at emotions, then two can play at that game.


  1. This is all well and good, and a clever move on your part. (Not that it will help. Jews, especially live Jews, don't count.) But at some point, chas v'shalom, Israel will almost certainly kill some "innocent"- it probably has in the past seventy-five years. And then the defenses of "we didn't do it" won't work, and using them too much may cause an inability to pivot to anything else when needed. Time to start trying something new.

  2. 'even though subsequently it turned out that Israel probably was not responsible"

    Citation will not be forthcoming.

    1. If you think about it, there really is an Alex Jones ghoulishnes about this. It's possible for those who have immersed their heads in IsReallyCool type echo chamber to have missed this, but there is no doubt to anyone who studied the issue in good faith that the poor boy and his father were repeatedly targeted and shot by IDF soldiers.

    2. You didn't read the Wikipedia article, did you?

      "The early view that Israeli gunfire had killed the boy developed into the position that, because of the trajectory of the shots, Palestinian gunfire was more likely to have been responsible."

    3. Yes, I read that. I don't deny the bad faith interpretation is widespread. In fact it's depressingly widespread amongst people like Rabbi Dr Slifkin who inaccurately regard themselves as rational.

      Likewise, many Moslem professionals genuinely believe that 9/11 was an inside job, and many neo Nazis have extemporised strenuously that the gas chambers didn't exist.

      Watch the video, read the autopsy, and tell me whether the victims were shot from behind, like the bad faith conspiracy theorists tell you. You don't need permission from any experts to believe your own 2 eyes.

    4. Sorry, prior comment was from The Hat

  3. The clickbait title of this piece perfectly captures the problem.

    Many Jews will side with Jewish faces, even if the facts don't support that position (and many Moslems likewise).

    That isn't a comment on the rights and wrongs of this particular round of violence. In fact Israel seems to have exercised skill and care in the use of violence on this occasion.

    1. Human beings side with their own type. We've been doing that ever since Homo Sapiens wiped out Neanderthals. It's natural, and it's a good thing at its root.

      Only those who wish to deny nature, at their peril, attempt (and usually fail) to do otherwise. So either you deny nature or are not Jewish, take your pick.

    2. I rather think the arrow of evolution points away from tribal fraticide, and that this change brings obvious survival advantages.

      Notions of justice and the rule of law are actually founded in evolutionary biology.

      Homo sapiens ("man who thinks") has done rather well of late, compared to other great apes. Of course if you wish to spend your days picking out bugs from your matted fur and displaying yellowed canines at other males, I have no principled objections.

  4. Does Rabbi Slifkin actually believe there exist unbiased observers whose opinions can still be shaped or manipulated? Let’s not be ridiculous. People’s opinions are formed early in life, and all subsequent events are confirmed or rejected by confirmation bias. It is *extremely* rare that someone’s opinion should change with no personal axe or stimulus to cause it. Just look at your post below about Covid/vaccines for proof. There are mountains of evidence to show how mistaken you were, and yet you’re still digging your heels in. Don’t imagine the Israelite/Palestinian issue is any different.

    1. Whether or not compete and absolute objectivity is ever possible is a different question to the question of whether achieving the maximum possible objectivity is desirable.

      Clearly it is best to be as fair, reasonable, consistent, and objective to all as is possible. That is why we have laws, judges and ways of resolving conflicts without resorting to trial by combat.


Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.

One Hundred Thousand!

I have to say, I'm pretty darn proud of this accomplishment. The Biblical Museum of Natural History recently hosted its 100,000th visi...